An In-Depth Behind the Scenes Look at a “Fairy Tale for Troubled Times” (“The Shape of Water: Creating a Fairy Tale for Troubled Times” REVIEW)

81wgzinxhzlEveryone loves a good making-of documentary in the bonus features of the DVD of a film. Well, this book is the next best thing. Written by Gina McIntyre, The Shape of Water: Creating a Fairy Tale for Troubled Times details the making of director Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, The Shape of Water. From the Publisher: From master storyteller, Guillermo del Toro, comes The Shape of Water—an other-worldly fairy tale set against the backdrop of the Cold War-era United States circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of silence and isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and coworker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Doug Jones. Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water: Creating a Fairy Tale for Troubled Times chronicles the entire filmmaking journey, from development to design to filming. Featuring interviews and commentary from key actors and members of the creative team, the book also showcases the amazing concept art and design work created for the film. For del Toro fans and movie lovers everywhere, it’s the perfect way to explore this exciting new movie from a master filmmaker known for his poignant storytelling and visual grandeur.

I love books like these. Insight Editions (the publisher of this book) and Harper Design have been producing a lot of these gorgeous behind-the-scenes books about the making of popular films for a while now, and I adore every one of them. They’re extremely expensive, but for good reason. This book (and others like it) is a large, hardcover, full-color tome that details everything that went into making the film. The book packs so much information into its pages that it’s honestly incredible. I use the documentary comparison because this book honestly has the same amount of information packed into its pages that a feature-length documentary covering the same material would have, if not more.

When I say that this book has a lot of content in it, I’m not kidding. It contains interviews with the cast and crew, concept art, behind the scenes photos, information about how key scenes were filmed and edited, information about the characters, details about the creation of the Fish Man and how the makeup was applied to actor Doug Jones, sketches from del Toro’s journal, and – best of all – character bios of three characters – Zelda, Giles, and Dr. Hoffstetler – written by Guillermo del Toro himself for the actors. The information in those bios are so detailed and rich, yet none of it appears anywhere in the film. That being said, you can see how having access to that information influenced the actors’ performances in their respective characters.

Like I said, The Shape of Water: Creating a Fairy Tale for Troubled Times is a treasure trove of information about the making of a truly superb film. It’s full of information, full-color photos, removable inserts, and lots of fun. It’s expensive but worth it. There’s really not much else to add. I highly recommend this book if you’re interested in The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, or how films are made. You won’t be disappointed.

(5 out of 5 wands)

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